Think of it as Better Place lite. The Taiwan government and utility companies have plans to help build 60 battery swapping stations for electric motorcycles – and by "electric motorcycles," they mean either electric scooters and/or electric motorcycles – and make 600 of the two-wheelers available to use for free. (Yes, free!) Of course, to take advantage of the situation, one would have to live in either New Taipei City on the north end of the island-country or in Kaohsiung City in the south, as each of those lucky cities will be getting 30 stations apiece. The program should spread to other cities in the future.
The initiative is meant to provide infrastructural support for 5,000 bikes and is being supported by funding from Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who created the Electric Motorcycle Battery Swapping System Subsidy Regulations (known locally as 電動機車電池交換系統補助辦法) last summer. Meant to make battery swapping as easy as filling up with gasoline and reduce maintenance worries, the program makes a maximum of NT$1.5 million ($49,430 at today's rates) available for each station installation.
While the hope is that the program will accelerate the change from internal combustion bikes to electric ones and reduce pollution, the task ahead certainly looms large. Taiwan has over 14 million registered machines on its busy streets.